Premier League 2018-19: Why a change of philosophy is required at Chelsea
As chants of 'F**k Sarriball' rang across the stands of Stamford Bridge and the fans railed against a manager who had been at the helm for barely 10 months, it cast a dark light on what Chelsea Football Club had become and what the fans had come to perceive the club to be.
In just over 16 years, Chelsea has had 12 different managers. This is what the story of the club has become since Roman Abramovich took over. And sadly, the fans of the club have become accustomed to that.
It has become a common feature at Chelsea to see the manager get fired without even finishing a whole season, if he does not live up to the expectations of the owner and the fans. I understand that this shows ambition on the part of the club and a desire to win more trophies, but my question is: is this a reasonable thing to do?
First things first, we have got to understand that changing managers is no mean task. A change of managers causes a domino effect, wherein a wide array of events follows the seemingly harmless move.
There will be new backroom staff. New training regimes. New strategies. And most important of all, new playing styles.
In the past five years itself, we have seen Chelsea go from Jose Mourinho’s pragmatic result-oriented approach to Antonio Conte’s five-man defense setup to what’s now come to be called Sarriball. All three have been completely different in their approach to the footballing game and have brought with them completely different philosophies.
Adapting to such drastic changes in the system is not a simple task for the players. And to top all of this, there is the inevitable incursion and excursion of players, depending on the tactical demands of the new manager.
Even amongst the players already at the club, there will be players who will be more amenable to the tactics of the new manager and will consequently step up to the challenge, while there will be regulars from the previous season who will struggle to retain their place in the starting XI simply because of the fact that they are playing in a whole new system.
Look at Victor Moses for example. He went from being a regular starter under Conte to not even making the bench for Sarri’s squad. And Moses is neither the first nor the last player to fall victim to this; the list of such players goes on and on.
On one hand I agree that as a professional club you cannot let monotony sink in and that over time, change is necessary to keep moving forward. But my question is: to what extent is this a good idea?
At the end of the day, regardless of how good the team is on paper, regardless of how many star players the team has, if the team lacks the enigma and chemistry on the pitch, it can never get results. You need the team to not just bond off the pitch and feel comfortable, but also understand each other.
The team on the whole needs to function as a single unit, a well-oiled machine. The players need to be so familiar with each other that they know each other’s moves before they even execute them. Is this possible if the state of matter remains the same as it is now at Chelsea?
It is no secret that the real strength of a team lies in its dressing room. And what would the dressing room look like if there is a constant sense of instability in the air? How would the players feel comfortable and enjoy themselves when they are not even sure if the manager will be here the next season or for that matter, whether the player next to them will be here?
Running a football club is not as simple as it seems. I am no expert in this field (obviously), but it doesn't take an expert to understand that a team needs to have the energy and the will to continue to grow and get better each year. If there is no certainty about their future, if they are not even sure about the conditions they will play under next season, and the players they will play with, they are bound to come up short time and again.
Maybe the time has come for Roman Abramovich to turn over a new leaf. The fans deserve that, and more importantly, the players deserve it too.